Open Thread

February 24th, 2012 • Kate

open-threadI know I’ve been negligent in blogging lately, and while I could blame the plague that swept through our household this week, that doesn’t really excuse me. So! To make it up to you, I’m opening up the blog for questions. ANY questions, publishing related or not. Want to know my favorite source for boots? (It’s Duo Boots in London. Stop by their Covent Garden fitting room if you’re ever in town, or just check them out online) Curious how cute Beau is lately? (Super cute. Also, apparently shilling for Sun-Maid Raisins.) Put your q’s in the comments, and I will answer them all weekend.

Filed Under: Slushpile


52 Responses to “Open Thread”

  1. Chelsey Says:

    I have a monkey hat similar to that!

    Meaning, I have close to the same hat as a one-year-old. Oh, how classy.

    What's your favorite season of Buffy?

  2. DaphneUn Says:

    Oooh, good question. Senior Year of High School, so… season three? Band Candy, The Wish, The Zeppo, Doppelgangland, The Prom, and the two-part Graduation Day season finale. All SO GOOD!

  3. Chelsey Says:

    I am SO with you on that. Season Three is the year of amazing–and not coincidentally the year Jane Espenson started on Buffy.

    Follow-up: same question for V*Mars. I've got it on the brain since I've been assigned to watch episode one for my YA Realism class. That is a potential step down the rabbit hole of rewatch….

  4. DaphneUn Says:

    Season One. All the way.

  5. Chelsey Says:


    Although, I have a weird relationship with season three, because creepy professor dude looks like a professor I had, and I am once obsessed and grotesqued by that. Also, the episode where Veronica pwns the TA and gets him arrested is fabulous.

  6. Author C. Says:

    Two questions:

    1) What’s your favorite recent non-client YA?

    2) I recently broke up with my agent. We shopped my manuscript to around fifteen publishers and shelved the book, but I still have an outstanding R&R from a major publisher–I’m waiting on my notes. I know I’ll be able to contact agents if I have a publishing contract in hand, but I’m pretty intimidated by the thought of handling editor communications/manuscript re-submission solo. I imagine zero agents would be interested in an already-shopped MS with no certainty of a contract, though.

    Would it be worth contacting agents about my situation, or should I just finish another novel ASAP and lump a mention of the R&R into that query instead?

    Thank you so much!

  7. Matt Says:

    Who's the most awesome middle-grade writer of superhero and steampunk fiction with the initials "MC" Be objective now . . .

  8. DaphneUn Says:

    That's a tough one. I guess, given the limitations on the question, I have to say Matthew Cody…. which is good because it's TRUE! He *IS* the most awesome. He's also super sweet, and poses well with Baby Beau.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    I recently entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, and I'm just starting to query my novel. According to the rules this year, if you make it past the next round (top 250 on March 20), an agent is not allowed to shop the novel until June, when the contest finishes, even if you don't make it to the final 50. At that point you also have to give Penguin first right of refusal before you can accept another contract (sorry if you already know all this!). I'd love the advice of an agent – is it better to withdraw from the contest now, just in case, or is it so unlikely that an agent would be ready to shop a novel that quickly that it's not an issue?

  10. DaphneUn Says:

    Hmmm, that must be new this year, since I hadn't heard in the past about the Penguin right of first refusal… which, I'll admit, makes me a little leery. But if you're in this far already, I wouldn't withdraw. June's not that long to wait to submit, and if you don't already have an agent, you might not even connect with the right one before then. Good luck!

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you SO much for the input! I really appreciate it πŸ™‚

  12. @lizwrites Says:

    Are you still playing SWTOR? If so, what class are you?

  13. DaphneUn Says:

    Yes! I just got a new laptop so my gameplay is even prettier and smoother, and (thank god) less laggy. I have a Jedi Consular Sage, a Smuggler Gunslinger,a Bounty Hunter Mercenary, and a Sith Warrior.

  14. @lizwrites Says:

    Wow, lots of alts! I got my Jedi Guardian to 50 and finished all the storylines and got bored. I hope they release the Legacy system soon.

  15. DaphneUn Says:

    Course, no one's higher than level 15. Before I got the new laptop, gameplay was pretty rough.

  16. @lizwrites Says:

    Ooh what kind of laptop did you get?

    All of the class storylines in SWTOR are really good, from what I've seen. I can't wait to play some alts.

  17. DaphneUn Says:

    It's an ASUS ummm… G53S? It's pretty buff, although it looks like the classic Battlestar Gallactica nect to lighter, thinner, prettier Macbooks and such.

  18. MollyG Says:

    This question may seem a bit odd, but…well, you said ANY question πŸ™‚ So here goes:

    I’ve been querying my most recent MS around for the past few months. A few weeks ago I had an agent over the moon about my book. He even scheduled a call with me. We talked and really hit it off. It felt like the perfect match. Though no “formal” offer of representation was put on the table, he said, “I’d love to work with you” and said we’d reconnect the following week to go over details. And…that was it. I’ve had complete radio silence from this agent ever since, even after sending a couple inquiring emails. It has been disappointing, to say the least, but I keep telling myself that it obviously wasn’t the perfect match, and it’s really all for the best, yadda, yadda. But in talking (venting/crying while cramming my face with donuts) to my darling hubby, he asked, “So, is this just a standard thing? Does this often happen between agents and authors? The agents make the call, sleeps on it, changes their mind and moves on?” I was thrown. I wanted to tell him, “No! No way would a decent agent would just blow someone off like that!”

    I’m right, right? Please say I’m right. πŸ™‚ Please tell me this sort of thing isn’t common practice.

  19. DaphneUn Says:

    You're right. I have to believe something radically important came up for this agent, because otherwise, that is the height of unprofessionalism, and gives a super bad impression of our job! Once you've had the call, to go radio silence is just super odd.

    If it were me, and something had comes up that kept me from replying in detail, I'd at least still find the time for a quick "things just got super busy, but I haven't forgotten you and I'm drafting a retainer" email.

    Unfortunately for him, even if something DID come up that you might have understood, by this point, it sounds like the ship has sailed. It's hard to come back to a level of trust after shenanigans like these.

  20. Krista V. Says:

    Ugh. Something similar, though not quite as bad, happened to me last summer, and it was awful. Like you said, you're definitely better off without him. And at least you found out now, instead of six or nine months from now, after you'd already wasted a ton of time on a business relationship that wasn't going to go anywhere.

    Good, good luck with your other queries and requests. If one agent loved your manuscript, hopefully another–better–agent will love it, too.

  21. Allison Ridley Says:

    How have you been lately? πŸ™‚

  22. DaphneUn Says:

    Better! I had a sore throat the other day, and was knocked low by a 24 cold thing, plus the kids were home sick, but everyone is feeling a lot better now!

    Plus, I've got some exciting announcements coming up. Whee!

  23. Najela Says:

    Would you ever consider repping a graphic novel?

  24. DaphneUn Says:

    Yea, if it blew me away. Which it would need to do in the pitch alone, since anything that was sent with an attachment would get deleted unread.

  25. Krista V. Says:

    Two questions for you, Kate. First, what would you consider to be one of the best kept secrets on your list, the book that didn't get a lot of hype, that maybe a lot of people haven't heard of, but that's well worth a read?

    Second, which MG/YA editors do you think every MG/YA writer should follow on Twitter? I've gotten to know a lot of agents over the past few years, but I'm much less familiar with editors, so I could use a few suggestions.

  26. DaphneUn Says:

    I think ALBATROSS by Josie Bloss didn't get nearly the attention it deserves. Meg Cabot called it "Taut and emotionally wrenching" and "the anti-Twilight." And her new one, FAKING FAITH, is also fabulous!

    As for editors I like to follow on Twitter, some of my faves include @MarthaMihalick of Greenwillow, @nanmercado of Roaring Brook, @chavelaque aka Cheryl Klein of Scholastic, and @StacyAbramsEdit of Entangled.

  27. Krista V. Says:

    Awesome! Thanks, Kate. I'll have to check out ALBATROSS (and FAKING FAITH!) and give some of those editors a look-see.

  28. Samara Says:

    Is it good enough for a book to be well written if its subject is considered to fall into an super saturated category, like boys wizards!

  29. DaphneUn Says:

    Unfortunately, no. For a manuscript to sell in this market, it needs to be both original, and well-written. Now, you may have a fresh take on boy wizards that'll make your manuscript stand out, but that needs to come across very clearly in your query, or most people will never get past the feeling of "been there, done that."

  30. Maribeth Says:

    Hi Daphne. I have a publishing/agent question. A few months ago I had chance meeting with a woman who is Director of Application Development at Harper Collins publishing. She asked for me to give her my middle-grade book and she would see what she could do. After reading it she gave it to the editors. She advised that both herself and the editors like the book very much but stressed I need an agent. She said I could give agents her name and let them know that the ms is currently in the hands of editors at Harper Collins. Prior to this I sent out numerous queries for this story ( I did get several requests for the full-but all ended up rejecting) my question is would an agent be more willing to take me on as a client if I give them this information? I don't know if I should requery all the agents who requested but rejected or just look to query brand new. I know this is a complex question but I'm stumped on what to do. I keep getting so close but still feel so far away from my dream.
    Thanks, Maribeth πŸ™‚

  31. DaphneUn Says:

    First of all, you don't want an agent who is only interested in you because you have a (potential) offer. You want someone who loves your manuscript, and more generally, your writing. I wouldn't reach out to agents who've already passed on the manuscript, but you can approach new ones with this woman's name and the fact that several editors at HC like the book.

  32. Samara Says:

    This is a follow-up to Maribeth’s scenario, do editors ever directly acquire books or do they always work through agents?

  33. DaphneUn Says:

    They do sometimes acquire books directly, but if an author accepts an editors's offer without an agent, rest assured, you're not getting the best deal you could.

  34. Maribeth Says:

    Thank you Daphne for answering my questions. I'm going back to querying:)

  35. Chelsey Says:

    I just realized I have an actual pub-related question. Part of my MFA focuses on revising manuscripts with the input of a publishing professional (usually an editor who has worked or works at a major house). Would this be something to mention in the query for said novel?

  36. DaphneUn Says:

    I'm not sure I understand. Are you trying to get an editor to work with you on your MFA, or get your book published? If it's the first, I'd probably suggest looking for a freelance editor. If the second, I wouldn't bothering mentioning it in the query, though you might want to bring it up shortly after signing a contract.

  37. Chelsey Says:

    Eek, none of the above. Okay, trying to clarify, it's that in my MFA program we spend a semester working with a publishing professional on fine tuning a manuscript–making it "publishable." It's pretty rare that something is ready to go immediately afterwards, so after further revisions it's up to us to look for an agent and all that, but the project has been seen/commented on/revised by an editor (usually) still working in the industry. Does mentioning that make sense, or is it akin to mentioning getting a freelance editor?

  38. Paloma Says:

    Would you ever consider representing a memoir, (if it is similar to reading a YA Contemporary book)?

  39. DaphneUn Says:

    If the writing was spectacular, sure! And if it could be marketed to the YA audience. I'm not interested in representing adult memoirs.

  40. Paloma Says:

    Thanks! Also, for a YA memoir, would I write the query letter in the same fashion as a normal fiction query letter? Or is there a different format?

  41. DaphneUn Says:

    Same as for fiction, since memoir really sells on the strength of the writing, not just a proposal.

  42. Susan LaDuke Says:

    I am an elementary school teacher. I had one of my teammates from my school read my novel to her class (without telling the students who the author was). At the end of the book

  43. Feaky Snucker Says:

    My first manuscript I didn't really bother querying, as I knew it needed a lot of work. I reworked the crap out of it after getting some beta readers and putting it away for two years. I think it has a real chance at being published, but there is one catch – POD. I was laid off, and hadn't wanted to beg family for money, so instead I put the manuscript up on lulu with a link to my family and friends so they could support me and also get something in return. Only about 12 sold. Would this prevent an agent from wanting the book, even with a major overhaul of it?

  44. DaphneUn Says:

    Nah, it shouldn't. If you're concerned, though, you could take it down now. But 12 copies to friends and family isn't a dealbreaker if an editor loves your manuscript.

  45. Queen Blake Says:

    In your opinion, what genre is the next big thing on the horizon?

    Also..what were you like in college?


  46. DaphneUn Says:

    If I keep saying contemporary YA, do you think that'll happen? I'm also hearing more rumors of horror – not just suspenseful paranormals, but actual horror.

    As for college, I was a lot preppier than I am now, but still super organized. I worked the information booth at the Student Center, was on the board of our theatre group, did a lot of stage managing, assistant directing, and tech stuff — all that with a double major and a pretty hardcore interest in getting good grades.

  47. Delia Says:

    Thanks so much for answering questions! I was wondering how ebooks have affected authors' backlist rights. It was my understanding (and I'm unpublished, so please correct me if I'm wrong) that authors' rights reversion had to do with how long their titles have been out of print, at least in some cases. How does this work if an ebook can theoretically remain "in print" forever? Does the contract language then address sales numbers? Or is there some other way this is addressed? This issue is a long way off for me, but I'm still curious how agents and publishers are dealing with this aspect of the changing print/ebook environment. Thanks again!

  48. DaphneUn Says:

    Agents are negotiating language in contracts that strives to specify that — if you're not talking about a digital only contract, for instance, the in-print language may specify a certain number of sales over a certain period.

  49. Paloma Says:

    I have one more question: what is your stance on sex in YA? Are there certain taboo words, or things to stay away from when writing in the YA genre about sex?

  50. Paloma Says:

    Oh, and also, what is your stance on swear words?

  51. Anne C Says:

    I've written a YA Real Person Fiction (RPF) and am in the revision stage. One of the main characters is a young, well-known actor who is alive and well. I'm considering writing the book twice: leaving the Actor in the book as-is, AND re-writing the novel with a fictional name for the actor, but is obviously based on him. The reason for this is because I fear leaving the Actor in will 'date' my book'. By the time this book made it to the shelves, the actor might be 'old news' and, in fact, 'old' for a young adult book. However, part of the hook and allure is going through this story with this particular Actor. So, as an agent, which would you rather read/represent? If the general story-line works either way, is it more intriguing to read about someone famous you can envision, or a generic 'famous Actor' so that the book can remain timeless?

  52. Author C. Says:

    I thought I'd replied to this already–sorry!

    Thanks for your thoughts. It's a frustrating situation to be in, so I appreciate the advice πŸ™‚